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No easy answers

Nick Robinson | 18:24 UK time, Friday, 2 May 2008

Gordon Brown toyed with a euphemism today and then cast it aside.

These results were disappointing, he began to say, before correcting himself and admitting that they were in fact, bad.

Gordon BrownHe had no choice of course. A new leader who'd promised to renew his party has in fact done worse than his predecessor Tony Blair ever did, even after the public had tired of him and his unpopular and unsuccesful war.

Labour's problem, then, is there are no easy explanations and therefore no easy answers to the mess they find themselves in.

The party, in effect, had its leadership crisis just two weeks ago, over the 10p tax debacle. On all sides there's much talk of listening to the electorate without much sense of what that really means.

Allies of the prime minister now openly compare his plight with that of John Major. The hope is that their man is in the same position as Mr Major was in the early 1990s - that the country will in the end, stick with him, rather than risk a flashy, untried and untested opposition leader.

Today's polls suggest, though, that he may be in fact in the same position as John Major in 1995 - headed for defeat.


  • Comment number 1.

    How the 10% was allowed to get out of hand a year after its announcement is the most worrying aspect for Labour strategists. Effectively their own MP's kept this burning barrel rolling and cost their council colleagues dearly. Just goes to show its 'events dear boy, events', in late 2007 Brown could of won a snap election!

  • Comment number 2.

    A lot of people have been commenting on how a leadership change at this stage isn’t desirable for Labor, and probably wouldn’t improve their chances of winning the next general election anyway. As a result, discussions about possible successors seem to have been played down, or ignored completely but…how can people not be thinking about it!?

    If, for fun, we go with speculation and say that Labor are going to loose the next general election then isn’t it logical to assume that they then wouldn’t use Gordon Brown to front the party in opposition?

    ‘Who’ll be next?’ – It’s a question that’s certainly on my mind!

  • Comment number 3.

    Brown is no John Major. John Major won a general election.

    Brown will never win any election (and now not even for leadership of his own party).

    If he was honest with himself, he would not be talking about 'listen and lead', instead he would 'listen and leave'.

    The Party's over.

  • Comment number 4.

    I think that Kinnock was in a much better position to run this country in 1992 than Cameron is today.

    Of course, we still have a couple of years to go before a general election, but Mr Cameron has a lot of catching up to do - a couple of actual policies wouldn't go amiss.

    In General Elections, unlike council elections, people vote FOR you, not AGAINST you.

  • Comment number 5.

    Todays results say one thing. Gordon has the same prospects of being elected next time as Neil Kinnock.

  • Comment number 6.

    I think many senior Labour figures will be considering their options. Perhaps one will be brave enough and do a Michael Heseltine and resign from the Cabinet, but there are few if any who have the morals of the late Robin Cook.

    The Unions are flexing their muscles, but causing more problems for the public - Communication Workers and Unite spring to mind. They are both now out of control and because of their links to Labour, cause further damage.

    But the other problems have been building for years. Take away Iraq and Afghanistan and they would be in a similar position.

    Most people frankly don't give too much thought to this, but certainly look at how much money they have to spend. The 10% tax issue has damaged Labour and the Prime Minister cannot deal with it. There is no money to be had (or should I say borrowed).

    The London Mayoral election is another issue. Everyone knows that Gordon and Ken aren't exactly busom buddies, and Ken is all for the Olympics, regardless of cost.

    If Boris wins tonight then I think Gordon Brown is finished.

  • Comment number 7.

    He's a loser not a leader it's as simple as that.

    Written all over his face.

  • Comment number 8.

    When the Tories control as many councils in Wales as Labour do, you know Labour's in meltdown,

  • Comment number 9.

    I started feeling almost sorry for GB who, after all, inherited this mess - until I remembered who was Chancellor for so long........

    If you have access to a chart of the trade-weighted value of Sterling, you'll see that it's a remarkably accurate barometer of the fate of governments - and the last time that the pound's value fell as precipitately as it has recently was the autumn of 1992. If that correlation holds true, there's no way back for Labour.

    Replacing Gordon Brown must seem an attractive option for Labour MPs whose seats, following the latest swing away from the party, are now deep in loss territory. But replacing him with any member of the current Cabinet would achieve nothing. Therefore, it seems to me that Labour's only viable option now would be to replace Mr Brown with someone from *outside* government circles, which to me means that Frank Field is probably the party's only hope. Now that really WOULD be "thinking the unthinkable"!

  • Comment number 10.


    Don not under-estimate the very significant client state built up by Brown.

    The voting strength of public sector workers, benefit/tax credit recipients, beneficiaries of local authority funding from central government to Labour targeted constituencies et al - is formidable.

    They risked nothing by voting against Labour at council elections, or staying at home.

    It will be a different story at General Election when individuals think of their income, pensions etc - with plenty of reminders from the Labour machine as to on which side their bread is buttered.

    This is not a side-effect of Brown/ New Labour's policies since 1997 but a planned outcome.

  • Comment number 11.

    I think that the electorate want to vote for people who are almost intuitively in sync with themselves and therefore think and believe the same things as them.

    There may be an uproar about the attention grabbing headlines and a commitment to listen and change their ways. But if the politicians aren't in sync with our beliefs and values, then I fear that the little things, the details, will not dealt with in the same way.

    I fear that the government at the moment has lost that intuition.

  • Comment number 12.

    Unfortunately for Labour, they decided not to make a contest of a Leadership election. Instead preferring an "Iron Chancellor" to grab the controls of the plane, low on fuel and altitude, whose previous captain just left the cockpit with the only parachute.

    Bumble after blunder followed. The Lib Dem's stuck the knife in with the Mr Bean jibe. It got laughs at the time but you can't help thinking that a vast swathe of Labour backbenchers were starting to think "what have we done".

    Add the "fake election", nicking the Inheritance Tax plans off George Osborne, the collapse of the stable economy he was so much vaunted for making and you have a pure recipe for disaster.

    Worst poll results for 40 years and what do they do? Promise 'to listen'.

    But that's their problem Nick, they *never* listen. They are too arrogant by far. When things don't go as planned its always the electorate's fault.

    Well perhaps now, after 11 years of this social engineering project gone wrong - the electorate are deciding its *not* actually their fault after all.

    The chickens are coming home to roost Mr Brown.

  • Comment number 13.

    "My job is to listen and to lead"
    Gordon Brown

    Well, if he'd actually been doing either of those things then Labour wouldn't be coming third in terms of the percentage of the vote in the country!

    The man is incompetent at his job and a total electoral liability. There is no way I'd vote for Labour with Gordon Brown dithering at the helm.

    He hasn't been elected by the country and he didn't call an election last year so this year the people did it for him. There may be local issues but make no mistake this vote is virtually all about Gordon.

    Boris is going to win and Gordon is finished. He may not go right now but I'm 100% certain he'll be gone before the end of the year. There are too many MPs who now know full well that they haven't got a job in two years time if he's still around.

    The only question of importance right now is which Ministers/MPs are going to put themselves forward to contest a leadership election.

  • Comment number 14.

    Re. comment 10. There may come a time, if the economy continues to slow, when the large client state built up by Brown can no longer be funded by any Government, including Labour. At this point, benefits will have to be trimmed back and non-essential local government jobs lost.

  • Comment number 15.

    Brown has been at the very pinnacle of government for the last eleven years, he should be leading, not listening and learning. The bottom line is as PM he is unelectable.

  • Comment number 16.

    Delighted to hear that now he will listen: we can finally have a referendum on the EU CONSTITUTION.

  • Comment number 17.

    Wouldn't it be awful if, in fifteen years time, some swivel-eyed 'conviction' Prime Minister loses the plot and is replaced by a grey-faced backroom boy, who loses the election and is replaced by another swivel-eyed Prime Minister, who is replaced by ANOTHER grey-faced...etc?

    No wonder everyone is bored of politics. Time for a political system that is just a weeny bit more representative of the modern world, perhaps?

  • Comment number 18.

    I remember saying at the time that Labour would rue the day they fell out of love with Blair, and so far Brown has done little to prove me wrong. However, he does still have time. In spite of the comments of some on this board, the economy is strong and we are in a much better position than almost any other major country. There seems to be a good chance that after all the alarums the British public will wake up some time next year and realise that this government has delivered on the promise to steer us through an economic storm that would have sunk us without trace if it had happened before 1997. But they can't afford any more silly mistakes like the 10p tax rate balls up; even though it affected relatively very few people, and then not too badly really, the fact that Brown has given the impression that he didn't see the consequences of what he did has dealt a very severe blow to his near invincibility on financial management.

    But some time during the next two years Cameron and Osborne are going to have to come up with some real policies, and not just 'suggestions' that they can back away from when they are shown to be impractical. My own impression is that they just aren't capable of doing that, so that when the election comes and people have to vote FOR something rather than AGAINST everything there is every possibility that even Brown might win. After all, I can remember Heath and Major winning, and they were not much, if any, less lightweight than Cameron (and being less lightweight does not mean they were more heavyweight!)

  • Comment number 19.

    Would the result have been any different if Blair was still PM,i think not,am not tring to draw on the question of left and right,i simply point out this "THE TORIES CAMPAIGNED ON CENTRE LEFT ISSUE,HELP THE POOR BETTER PUBLIC SERVICES ECT,WHILE LABOUR WERE STUCK WITH THE RIGHT WING TAX ISSUE YOU KNOW THE 10P THING AND THE RICH GETTING RICHER LABEL......come on Nick the truth is out there?

  • Comment number 20.

    Just be thankful for small mercies. If he had called an election last year we would have 4 years more of this instead of 2!

    His problem - he actually believes the spin. Economic expertise? He didn't understand the problem of 10p that was of his own making. Perhaps the populace will now wake up.

  • Comment number 21.

    It is clear that the Labour Party is now so far to the right ( almost fascist in its determination to control people due to Blair's control freakery) that the Tories now look the party of sanity and moderation . How ten years of Blairite/Brownite control and subservience to the money lenders have reversed perceptions. Ten years ago people said they would never vote Tory again - they looked for a release from Tory policies only to have them set in stone by the new Labour Government . So now the Tories have re-invented themselves as caring and compassionate - guess what ? the voters are going in droves to them . Had the Labour Party been true to its origins and not lied to the voters in 1997 then this scenario would be inconceivable . NuLabour - UnLabour - ZanuLabour anything but Labour and its socialist ideals.

  • Comment number 22.

    Jimbrant (Post 18) talks about Labour steering us through an economic storm.

    I suggest you do some research into the PFI liabilities now held by the taxpayer. Add the guarantees for banks and you have a case where the UK could go bankrupt very quickly.

    PFI - started by the Tories but championed by Labour (and the SNP of all people) means that public service buildings - hospitals, schools etc - are owned by the private companies, not the state. If the company goes bust, the building can be shut by the administrator.

    Labour might as well call an election and lose it, since many of the PFI consequences could strike in the next few years.

    Many PFI schemes are held off the "balance sheets", and therefore do not need to be declared by the Chancellor. Burying one's head in the sand comes to mind.

    I was 13 in 1979. I remember the state of the economy then. Now history repeats itself.

  • Comment number 23.

    MasterBiggins asked, "who will be next ?"

    I'd say David Blunkett. He may be blind but I think he still sees things more clearly than Gordon Brown. At least he does not see them through control-freak-tinted lenses with a willful disregard for the political reality as exemplified by the 10% row !! And he always did make more sense than Brown anyway !!

  • Comment number 24.

    "AdamInKent wrote:
    Re. comment 10. There may come a time, if the economy continues to slow, when the large client state built up by Brown can no longer be funded by any Government, including Labour. At this point, benefits will have to be trimmed back and non-essential local government jobs lost."

    They are doing it already, never mind that the 10p tax rate hits a lot of those workers, just the "official" rate of inflation is giving all those workers (and most other people too) a pay cut every year. Real world inflation is a good 2-3+% over the Governments preferred measurement.

    It's increasingly looking like Labour is finding itself between a rock and a hard place, with headline grabbing "look over there" and run tactics being nothing like as effective as they were in the heady days of unmitigated Spin.

  • Comment number 25.

    Brown has not the moral fibre to apologise, let alone resign. Cambell was right, he has serious personality problems. His character defects should preclude him from high office and he must go. But not yet. He is too valuable to the Conservatives as the weak and stubborn incumbent. After the next election he will go down as the worst Labour premier of all time.

    He has not the guts to stand by the consequences of his policies and prefers the unpleasant facts to surface, sometimes years after formulating them, obscured by current events. That is the essence of stealth taxes. Look how he forced Ruth Kelly to make the excuses in the Commons over Equitable Life while he himself hid away in some dark corner, far from the front line. The treatment of private pensions. The betrayal of the lowest paid, which even now is unravelling with issues like increased top up fees for these victims' pensions, and the discovery of retrospective taxation of motor vehicles which will hurt families. His treatment of the City and non doms has been disastrous and damaging. Even recently, where was he when his party needed him at Bury?

    Cameron, about whom I am far from comfortable, was right when he branded him a loser. He is a dishonest incompetent.

  • Comment number 26.

    Fault of Labour MPs in their mini rebellion nonsense.

    Especially over the 10p tax thing. That was announced last year...why didn't they speak up THEN?

    I feel for the PM. Hopefully the losses can stop here and recovery made at general.

  • Comment number 27.

    Keeping local government and national politics well apart is no bad idea.
    Council elections do not necessarily reflect voting intentions at general elections. Commentators may be exaggerating their significance

  • Comment number 28.


    I disagree, there are easy answers; how about Brown turning the party back into the socialist party that we thought we were getting before Blair et al, when elected, turned it into the second Tory party.

    Labour voters have stayed home in droves because they have become disenfranchised by the right wing Labour career politicians who are totally devoid of principal and independent thought.

    The BBC have colluded in this by making sure that very rarely do we hear or see true socialist politicians or spokesmen from the left on programmes such as 'Question Time' or 'Any Questions', for fear of upsetting the establishment.

  • Comment number 29.

    In honour of today's events, I would like to offer an 'Ode to the Local Elections':

    I never thought I'd see a day
    As good as this,
    "But Why?" you say,
    "A war's still raging in Iraq,
    Our wages taxed to Hell and back,
    We're credit-crunched, the Pound is down,
    There's violent drunks in every town,
    Our hospitals will make us ill,
    We can't afford our petrol bill,
    Inflation's rising out of sight,
    At school our kids can't read or write,
    So we can't see a single way,
    That you can say 'life's good' today".

    Though all the things you say are true,
    They've brought about a change in you,
    Today, there's something in the air,
    Now people really seemed to care,
    You left your houses, man and youth,
    and you went to a Polling Booth,
    Be Proud! Because as one you rose,
    And gave this Government a bloody nose,
    Turnout's higher than years before,
    You stood your ground,
    You said "No More".

    And all the things of which you spoke,
    Are true
    We're still beneath the yoke,
    Of Government inept and dumb,
    But now they've seen their time has come,
    We won't be robbed or back your war,
    We won't live like this any more,
    You work for US - not us for you,
    Your years of conning us are through!,
    We want real action, not cliche,
    We want a change that starts TODAY,
    And so, upon a final note,
    I'm Happy.
    Because today,
    Britain remembered how to VOTE.


  • Comment number 30.

    So, all the Tories have to do is sit tight and say nothing that will scare the natives for the next couple of years and by default, fill the boots as the electorate give NuLab the heave-ho.

    And they have the cheek to to call economics 'the dismal science'.

    I really can't think of anything more depressing for the English people than for Labour to be turfed out, not that they probably won't deserve to be given the elbow, to be replaced by those 'chinless wonders' who think it is their birthright to order the peasants around.

    'Party' politics is deeply flawed and fundamentally, in essence, undemocratic (look at the lack of support for the three main parties amongst the English electorate).

    We English have to find a better way of doing politics.

  • Comment number 31.

    Change of leadership, change of style. Give Gordon a chance, he may be no Blair but that doesn't make him a bad leader. He has arrived at the top of the pile at a difficult time, so give the guy a bit of leeway all you blow hot , blow cold Labour supporters!
    Just remember one thing, almost any Labour government is far better than government by those Two Faced Tories!

  • Comment number 32.

    Gordon Brown needs to stop trying to be like Tony Blair.

    He needs to stop being consensual, stop being polite at the Dispatch Box, and go back to his roots and personal convictions. The man has an intellect beyond David Camerons, and he should wield it like a hammer.

    Mr Cameron has an easy way of spouting ideals. I, and the rest of the country, await policies.

  • Comment number 33.

    "Flashy"? Nick, c'mon. Only in comparison to "Opaque" Brown.

  • Comment number 34.

    Let's face it everyone. The weakness in this Government is a guy called Darling. He has no bravado, he has'nt got the shoulders to back up Mr Brown. The Blaire/Brown team had their alledged differences, but they sterred the ship. The finances are in a mess and Mr B is covering up for a lame duck who is being towed 2 miles behind the ship, teaching him to swim, this ain't no time for learners.... end of story. Mr B kept the reigns on this Country. "Mr" Darling is made of clay, not muscle....

  • Comment number 35.

    Oh! And by they way, where's the flippin Cabinet when you need them. How many people in the street can name them?......

  • Comment number 36.

    Brown inherited in 1997 from unsung Ken Clark a very healthy economy: through ten years of global economic boom, instead of improving the position, he squandered billions in wasteful public sector expenditure. Poor Darling could not even do what new corporate chiefs do - admit how bad the position was. Brown through sustained politicking of 10 years hounded Blair out and the voters who voted for a substantial Blair term were conned after the event by the royal hand over to the unelected Brown. It has now taken him all of one year to blow all the political capital Blair left behind, despite Iraq.
    Brown repeatedly said that the boom and bust days of Tories are over: he has achieved the impossible - bust the economy during the boom times. A Roman Tragedy, for which all of us are going to pay.

  • Comment number 37.

    Quack Quack!!
    Lame duck Prime Minister coming through

    This is a disaster for Brown. Expect no punches to be held from Ken. It is all unravelling for Labour and I am very happy about it.
    Stick around for another couple of year Gordon cos we will all know how badly you have managed the economy then. Times are tough now, they are only going to get worse and he is going to get more and more lame.
    Please can we never have this situation again with any political party that there is a coup and nobody at all given a choice, not even the MPs in his own party. This is not democracy and Brown must now realise it.

  • Comment number 38.

    I love all the people here criticising the Conservatives for "not having any policies". Have you people truly not noticed what happens when they do announce a policy? That's right, if it looks halfway popular Labour promptly steal it! Or if they can't actually bring themselves to implement it - as with inheritance tax reductions - they'll announce something that appears to do the same thing in the hope that people won't look closely enough to notice that it doesn't. Or else they'll announce "plans" for something - like simplifying taxes or cutting bureaucracy in the happy New Labour belief that announcing something is 90% of the battle (especially if you can announce the same money three times over at six month intervals and then still not spend it).

    Nope, if Gordon wants to know Conservatives policies let him find them out the hard way - by calling that General Election sooner rather than later. Truly, it can't come soon enough for most of us!

  • Comment number 39.

    Brown is finished - and good riddance to bad rubbish. And if I were the head honchos of the BBC, I would start to get ever so nervous. The boys at PC-BBC better start checking their pensions, (are they as big as Jenny Abramski's?.... Probably not..) - The days of reckoning are near, the BEEB- PC agenda is about to be buried - BBC's supine position of subservience in trying to somehow placate the beast that is nu Labour is about to bite your bums.....

  • Comment number 40.

    "A shallow salesman"

    Congratulations, Gordon Brown - you just alienated the whole of the private sector.

    When will this dithering incompetent prime minister realise that the 'shallow salesmen' who represent the whole of the private sector are trying to pay the wages of the public sector.

    No 'shallow salesman' has the same kind of shallow disrespect for hard working public sector employees that this dithering incompetent prime minister shows for the people who ultimately pay for his salary and his future pension.

    The utter conceit of these people is beyond belief. Where do they think the money comes from?

  • Comment number 41.

    Well Tony Blair did say that "he "would make a clunking fist of it; or I think that's what he said.

    Some clunk; some fist!

  • Comment number 42.

    Jimbrant (Post 18) Wrote..
    But they can't afford any more silly mistakes like the 10p tax rate balls up; even though it affected relatively very few people, and then not too badly really.

    I don't for one second accept this was a mistake it was a cynical political ploy to try and buy the middle class vote for an election that never was.

    Relatively few people, 5.3 million seems quite a few to me.

    Not too badly really, It was hitting the lowest wage earners in society do you want to go out and start canvassing opinions on that, this group shouldn't be singled out for any direct tax increase no matter how small.

    The main issue with me is one of trust, i'm one of those core labour voters who unfortunately didn't get the chance to vote or abstain on Thursday. He's stabbed the working poor in the back with this 10p tax rate. I've just lost all trust in this government.

    I'm thinking of voting Tory next time but then I come on here and other forums and see some of the Tory Boy rants and well you're putting me off big time!

  • Comment number 43.

    Three points

    Well done Boris. He may be a "clown" but he still had to win and we may be surprised. David Cameron has to make this work and will, I believe, make sure that the right people advise Boris.

    I have just heard Jack Straw. He is listening too. Surprise. But reading between the lines he seemed to be saying @ok, it was a bad day but we do have a strategy so more of the same."

    Finally, everyone talks about the 10p tax rate as the cause of the labaour defeat. I think it played a part as the catalysts for people to look at Labour in greater detail ane they saw all the other mistakes they have made.

    Personally, I believe that Brown doesn't have either the personality, the breadth of vision or the ability to ability to govern for the whole Country. He only seems to e interested in the poor and children. Many of the working classes have worked their way up to a good standard of living and are now finding themselves squeezed by this idealist.

  • Comment number 44.

    Whatever your thoughts of Brown as a chancellor, whether be was brilliant or it was all smoke and mirrors and there are plenty of chickens to come to roost,his massive failing is not delivering on his words when he became prime minister.If he had got the big stick out and explained to his ministers massage your expenses and no cabinet seat he would have been seen to be doing something,but no he hasn't.When ministers feel it is alright to rook the system for all they can because they are his mates it doesn't say much for his leadership.He wasn't going to surround himself with PR men he was going to be substance not spin,how Many has he got? The arrogance of not caring about the less well of because he wasn't going to admit to making a mistake about the 10p tax rate.The 42 day detention bill that will be strictly monitored,as strictly monitored as the anti terror law that allowed a heckler at the labour conferance to be removed undre the anti terrorism law.
    If there was anyone to take over from him I would say go,but there is no one.

  • Comment number 45.

    It is a disgrace in our system that a man can become Prime Minister without anyone voting for him to be there. As soon as Blair resigned, a date should have been set for an election.

  • Comment number 46.

    As a lifelong Labour voter it hurts me to say we could all see this coming, why could'nt the people that run Labour? ... they have frankly lost touch with us, we worry about the price of food, fuel, and other essentials, we see immigration out of control and polititians with snouts constantly in the trough 'ripping us off' and trying to conceal it, I could go on but with a heavy heart I actually find myself saying Labour got what it deserved. I and the rest of the country will now look to Brown to change tack and think first of us, the little, hard working, often broken citizens and give us hope as the next step for me is to vote Tory ..... and if I will anyone will.

  • Comment number 47.

    " Culpability" Brown. Just add London to his long list of under achievments.

  • Comment number 48.

    This country is supposed to be a democracy. I like many others DETEST the idea of unelected political leaders. What mandate do they think they have?

    Gordon Brown's big opportunity to correct this was immediately after he assumed office. Then he was riding the crest of the polical popularity wave - and the waverers would have given him the benefit of the doubt.

    However, dithering and indecision ruled, we had no election - and now the verdict of the people is that Gordon Brown is the most unpopular leader imaginable. His reputation for competance lies in ruins, and after the 10p tax fiasco it's not even clear what the Labour party itself stands for.

    I don't see where he can go from here, or Labour - time for a fundamental renewal of values all-round.

  • Comment number 49.

    Watching Gordon Brown spouting the same old stuff about listening and learning makes me want to laugh and throw up in equal measure. Will he now listen to the people and grant the referendum that was promised (by him) on the EU constitution / treaty? Will he listen to the concerns of English voters and sort out the absurd situation that he helped to create through devolution wherebye the English alone in these islands have no control over their own domestic affairs? Will he listen to those who have been decrying constant stealth taxes introduced by him which were masked in the good times but are now clearly apparent through much reduced disposable incomes during these harder economic times? Will he heed the disquiet that most voters have clearly expressed about the constant erosion of civil liberties in this country and drop his absurd quest for increased detention without trial?

    The answer to each and every question is: "NO", and everybody knows it. He would do better to keep quiet and accept that he will never win a general election as leader of his party. If he doubts that he should call one now and let this country satrt to lick the wounds that he has helped to inflict.

  • Comment number 50.

    The mayor-elect of London has helpfully suggested to the Labour Party that the smart move for it would be to remove Mr Brown quietly and expeditiously from the position which he is currently occupying to the considerable discomfiture of both himself and his party. As Mr Johnson added, this is unlikely to happen. The smart move is the one that Labour is likely to resist as per usual.

    Still, sometimes in politics that which is believed to be unlikely does occasionally come to pass, as Mr Johnson knows from his own very fresh experience.

    Why should Mr Brown go? He has made mistakes. True. The abolition of the 10p income-tax rate was not a smart move. Mr Brown has conceded this this affair is to his and his party's discredit. Lessons will be learned, he has promised. The election results that are occupying our attention have produced the same response: lessons will be learned.

    Quite right. But which lessons? Could one of them be that the present leader, if permitted to remain in place, will lose the Labour Party the next UK general election? If so, for Labour's sake he had better go very soon. This is the moment for that if a new leader is to have time to establish himself or herself as party leader and PM before that election has to be held.

    If there is anybody left in England who cares at all whether the British state breaks up, you really really do not want to elect a Conservative government at a time when it would be faced with a popular and highly competent SNP government north of the border.

    I do not suppose for one moment that the general population of England will consider this aspect of the matter for one moment, but arguably the Labour Party should do so if it is any longer capable of any smart moves at all.

    Don't say you haven't been warned.

  • Comment number 51.

    Not sure what inspires the bile that so many people on here spew when talking about Gordon Brown. Investment in public infrastructure has been provided by Labour during the last 10 years that was desperately needed. Employment is high, intereset rates are low and have been for years. Now the global economy is going through a downturn. Who is going to be more competent at economic stewardship through this period?
    This is still the "acid test" and still the reason why Labour are in with a chance of a fourth term.
    The Unions and the left wingers will probably crack and blow it for Brown. This would be classic Labour history repeating itself.

  • Comment number 52.

    The 'bile' that peteholly refers to, is because we are fed up with the politics and the policies being pursued by the Brown Government - just like we were with his predecessor.

    Brown wants to remake Britain in his own image because he thinks he has the moral compass to decide how everyone should live and comply with what he thinks it is to be 'British'.

    That's why he wants to wants to reclassify canabis, despite the medical and scientific reports to the contrary that were provided to him. That's why we can't smoke in pubs any more. That's why he wants us all to have Identity Cards. He wants us all to be as dour as he is.

    At the same time he is taking from the poor and giving to the rich and taxing everything that people depend on to the hilt, from transport to education.

    It is not a question of, as the Home Secretary said, of the Labour Party being given 'a kick up the backside' - it is nearer to 'divorce proceedings'. You can only put up with a certain amount of abuse in a relationship and as a former Labour supporter, I've had enough.

    The next couple of years are going to be tough. We'll have a discredited government using every trick in the book to hang on to power until they are forced to face the public in a general election. I'm assuming they won't have to courage to call one until the last possible moment.

  • Comment number 53.

    Did'nt Phoney Tony scuttle off the sinking ship just in time? Very astute! And found a very nice new cosy home too! No money worries here; yet.

  • Comment number 54.

    It's amusing to see the guardianistas in these forums solemnly blaming the 10p tax fiasco for nu-labours kicking, that was just the last straw.

    The main issue, (for everyone i've spoken to), is the dreaded "I" word, yes folks, IMMIGRATION!!.
    Unless the main parties wise up, admit that it's excessive, and DO something about it, there's troubled times ahead.

    Who would have thought in their wildest dreams, that 69'000 londoners would elect a BNP candidate??.
    The liberal left need to wake up from their dream of some rosy, ideological utopia, and get a REALITY check!!

  • Comment number 55.

    #51 peteholly

    I'm sure what inpires the bile about Brown, in as few words as possible

    1 Uninspiring
    2 Lack of strategy
    3 Bully - ask his team, that's why he surrounds himself with weak yes-men and -women
    4 Weak (bullies normally are)- failure to call an election last year
    5 Ambitious only for himself (backstabing Blair)
    6 Poor advert for the UK - looks a mess
    7 Inability to communicate with the general public other that quoting statistics adfinitum
    8 Inability to govern for all of the people
    9 Exploiting the poor - 10p tax
    10 Unable to accept that he is wrong - until last week when a Commons failure would have been against his interests
    11 Untrustworthy

    This is getting boring. I'll let you or other add numbers 12 to .........

    Conclusion. Not a leader that anyone can look up to. Ask the elderly who lived through the war under Churchill. They will tell you that once he became PM they never believed that they could lose and that when he gave a speech they tingled!!! That is real leadership.

  • Comment number 56.

    'Unsuccessful war', eh? I see that the BBC is still spinning for all it's worth.
    Saddam Hussein's regime was removed, Iraq no longer poses a threat to its neighbours - but the BBC is a slave to its own agenda and preconceptions, and refuses to see the real world.

  • Comment number 57.

    Brown is, at heart and in the publics' perception, not a leader but a follower... 10 years as Chancellor anyone?

    The shame of we what have heard in the last 48 hours is not that Brown and Labour are going to listen... we understand that 'new' promise; it's the lack of positive action in the last 5/6 years that sticks in peoples minds.

    Given a choice, and for the good of the country, the action I would choose would be ...go to the country Mr Brown.

    History, as things stand will record that Brown is ... unelected (to the office of PM, by the People), dithering (Northern Rock) and a man who failed to see his own betrayal of the working class he went into politics to protect(10p tax rate).

    What would History say of a man who put the good of the country first, before his own ambition? ... unique? great? or both?

  • Comment number 58.

    Gordon Brown is set to ........
    That's precisley al they ever do,
    GET SET, then do nothing good, only bad.
    I suggest,
    GET SET, then GO!

  • Comment number 59.


    What an anti-climax!!!

    So Brown is one of us, comes from a working class family, and knows what's right for us.

    His team are working on their strategy and we will know what they have decided in the next few months.

    He has handled the economy perfectly for the last 10/11 years and its not his fault.

    The Conservatives will be quaking in their boots. What he is saying is "no change", or reading between the lines, "we don't have a strategy and are working hard to try and find one."

    The best thing for the Conservatives is just to wait now, not give their ideas away as they are almost always stolen, and let Labour self destruct.

    Isn't this fun!!!

  • Comment number 60.

    I recon you guys should elect ME! mind you Boris did have a hair cut! . Maybe President Bush can sort us all out? Got to go theres a road sweeper outside. Gosh he drives better than Golden B. I guess its just a blip in british history that will be sorted out by our grandchildren?

  • Comment number 61.

    Gordon just doesn't "get it" does he.

    As usual with Nu-Labour ministers, they have decided whats "good for Britain and the hard working families of Britain" and Gordon says he'll see it through.

    But Gordon, its precisely because we *do not agree* with your "vision2 that we gave you a good kicking.

    How hard is that to understand.

    We want *change* not resilience. We want an elected leader not a puppet.

    But most of all, just for once, we want you to agree that you've sold this country up the river for the last 11 years and its time to reverse course.

    but you'll not actually *do* anything will you.

    Gordon, don't order a Christmas tree for No.10 this year - I've a feeling you won't be needing it..

  • Comment number 62.

    It’s quite simple really. The English want their country back.

    They’re fed up with taxes, direct and indirect, covert and stealth, political correctness, pandering to ethnic minorities, the adverse consequences of human rights legislation and the industry it fosters at taxpayers expense, loss of border control, a bloated, increasingly expensive and largely out of control and inefficient public sector and, most of all a government that is indifferent to their views.

    This is not all about the 10% tax, it is the culmination of a government whose policies have, over time taken the ‘workers’ and ‘taxpayers’ for granted and have, rightly, been rejected.

    There is a limit and it has been reached. This government do not have the will or the nous to rectify this situation. The country is in a far worse position than it has ever been before, politically and financially, and the person responsible is Brown.

    The ‘towering intellect’, if ever the term was justified, is now exposed for all to see as a bumbling inexperienced (one department only) political hack. He never had the capacity or charisma to lead this great country and never will have.

    He, and the rest of them, should go.

  • Comment number 63.

    The Andrew Marr Interview: I would not call it an anticlimax at all. It was just more of the same.

    Mr Brown showed, as he is the habit of doing, that he is completely removed from reality. A few examples:
    * Told that he looks tired, he says no, he doesn't. Now, who in his right mind would disagree with the remark that he looks tired? And who would blame him for looking tired? And what would an acceptable answer have been? Something along the lines of "well, yes, this is all quite heavy going, so I may well look a bit tired, but I don't feel tired at all." I'm fairly sure even that would be bending the truth, but you can forgive someone a take like that, whereas you can only say "stop taking us for fools" when that person goes in denial mode.

    * Asked about what mistakes he's made, he goes on about the 10p blunder (which it is, for sure), and when prompted comes up with (only) one more thing: the handling of the election-that-never-was. In doing so Mr Brown gives another clear sign that he misses some vital feelers: the general public may have had fun at his expense over the e-t-n-w, but it didn't really affect anybody in the electorate, and if it did, it's only been to the electorate's advantage: had he called and won the early election, everybody would now still be stuck with him for much longer. But one thing is clear: if to him it was a mistake, it gives a strong signal to the outside world that he is calculating his actions with his own future in mind. Is that really the best trait in a PM?
    If, which I would not put past him, he's come up with the e-t-n-w as a mistake only because it is a relatively minor one, it is an indication that even he knows of, but doesn't want to acknowledge, other, bigger mistakes. Which of course there are: pensions and pension fund tax raids, micromanagement of just about everything, PFI schemes that are in essence no different from the off-balance sheet vehicles the financial industry is now being lambasted over, the handing out of vast sums of money for no returns, the creation of a client state/base of which many a Roman senator of old would have been proud, etc. The list goes on and on.

    * Asked what he is going to do about all of it the standard "getting on with the job" rears its ugly head again. Mr Brown must be deaf, blind AND olfactorily handicapped if he cannot make out that the electorate have now told him it doesn't want him to get on with the job. And that is not taking into account that at no point he ever makes clear what that job actually is, or what it should result in: there is never an inspiring sketch of what is to be achieved; only the boring "making Britain a fairer place, with fair opportunities", and "hard working families". Blahblahblah.

    It is ever so clear Mr Brown has never himself had to hire staff for a menial (but certainly not unimportant and honest! - and at £8+ an hour well paid!) part time job such as cleaning for something else than cash-in-hand. Let me tell him: after the introduction of all of his means tested regulation, tax credits, etc., interest in that sort of thing is just about non-existent. People would rather have job seekers allowances and all of the other hand outs than earn an honest wage. All of (t)his social engineering is beginning to backfire spectacularly. With him holding the gun he now finds himself in the firing line, but more importantly, and sadly, this sort of thing backfiring means it's the economy as a whole that suffers even more. And that is all of us. I would call THAT a mistake, and shall gladly forgive him his e-t-n-w.

  • Comment number 64.

    "Labour will recover" says Brown. Three hundred years time may well be a bit too late.

  • Comment number 65.


    When I said an anti-climax I mean't I expected Brown to come out with all guns firing, but as we have both said it is just MORE OF THE SAME. He has only one speed and one direction, the ones rejected on Thursday.

    Yesterday we had a family birthday for my mother-in-law with people of all ages. I am the only person to have always votes Conservative, through good times and bad. Just to put this into context, at 56 I was brought up in a single room then a prefab. I always had free school meals and a full grant at university. I should be Labour material.

    Everyone else has been voting Labour since 1997, including my wife.

    The general agreement is that Brown is a loser and that none of the other 6 will vote Labour at the next election. Its not just the 10p but a a whole catalogue of things from stealth taxes, money for peerages, the non-election, wasting billions of pounds, the huge increase in beurocracy and the number of people employed to make it happen, etc, etc, that was mentioned. Th current food and fuel prices hardly got a mention.

    In reality, everyone said that Brown isn't up to the job, labour has had long enough in power, and that they felt increasingly stiffled/suffocated by the government. So time for a change.

    Finally, everyone thinks that Boris Johnson may be a very good mayor provided he gets a good team around him. This is important.

    Its seems that the only person who feels he doesn't need a team and can handle all the strategy and tactics, all the fine detail and decisions is Brown.

  • Comment number 66.

    An unelected premier should stand back and realy listen. He is not there by right. So to tell us he will lead us out of the hole he has dug is laughable. He has a cabinet of sidekicks who are now looking at there laurals, if they are not carful there gravy train will end. Look at what Blair has achieved a 4million pound mansion, from the sweat and blood of those that he said he would protect. We are now told immigrants costs to send home is high! so what. Monies raised from fines etc., should be used to cover costs. Costs are being hyped for a reason. Is this so that this unelected premier will say to save us money he will allow all to stay. NO NO NO

  • Comment number 67.

    Gordon Brown clearly is not a leader... a government that listens and learns after an election should clearly not be in government.

    I got the impression from the Andrew Marr interview that Gordon Brown clearly has not a clue, otherwise the party would not have been in this state - what is worrying....

    ... there is not one single person in the cabinet capable of standing up to Brown and Co. saying 'you can't do that' instead they let him... or was it because they dare not argue in fear of losing their job?

    This is what I call a weak government, the backbenchers it seems could do a better job in the cabinet than those in it...!

    Why did the cabinet allow it to happen.. Nick do us a favor and ask why it was allowed to happen and don't be fobbed off with this was a mistake, it must have been calculated.

  • Comment number 68.

    following the loss of a huge number of local seats and the London mayoral election for the Labour party, the prime minister accepted the blame and committed his vision once again that he is very concern about the current economic situation and will do more to help all people. i ask those Labour party members and MPs that even the former prime minister Tony Blair himself acknowledge that the three successive general election victory would not have been possible without Gordon Brown and he has been the most successful chancellor Britain ever have. what on earth these people change their mind for the same person. i have not seen people with such dishonesty. i think labour party has to recognize the achievement of the current prime minister.

  • Comment number 69.


    I have a horrible feeling that if and when the Conservatives gain power and see the books for the last 11 years they will be appalled.

    So much appears to be off balance sheet that many think that the real figures are so much worse than spun by messrs Brown and Darling.

    Only then will we be able to judge Brown, and by then it may be too late to do anything about. I hope I'm wrong.

    Blair chose his time to hand over power to Brown very carefully. Blair knows the facts and his allies appear to be feeding the bad news in a controlled manner to do Brown the maximum damage.

    Shades of "be nice to people on the way up because you'll probably meet them on the way down."

  • Comment number 70.

    Yes MIPECO Churchill was a great leader of a coalition during the war as I well remember and his speeches were immense for that we owe to his memory a great debt of gratitude, and as you say tingling but the Welsh miners weren't tingling when he took the troops into Wales to quell the strikers who were struggling to get food into their wives and children, he didn't last long after the war did he, he also managed to stroll across the house a few times he was followed by other great leaders like Anthony Suez Edon. Douglas Hume, Harold never had it so good Mcmillan, Dear old Ted stabbed in the back by Thatcher who was then stabbed in the back by John Major, then we had the boy's in waiting, William the comedian Hague who was dumped for then the quiet man Ian Duncan Smith, too quiet,who was then again dumped for the man with a dark side Michael Howard finally we move on to the school bully Flashman Cameron who I think supported by the Eton boy's club will last for a little longer but only because he was wise enough to give the Eton boy's the best jobs, he's a slick salesman is our Dave, As you can see Mikepo not a lot to get excited about after Churchill, who wasn't sure whether he was a Tory or a Liberal

  • Comment number 71.

    Re 51 pete holly I agree with every thing you say, its time those sad and predictable mostly led by failed past ministers left wing rebels either put up and get out or stop trying to destroy the sensibly modernised Labour party, old labour is dead let it rest in peace or you'll kill new Labour as well.

  • Comment number 72.


    Politics is a dirty business, whatever party you belong to. What I was saying about Churchill was that he went his own way and being a pragmatist did what he thought was right rather than doing what his "party" expected. And for every negative you can find about him I will find a lot more positives.

    People who don't want change will always find a hundred reasons not to do something rather than put that energy into actually doing something positive.

    So, starting from here, and forgetting the past, what is the way forward. I would say keep the good things that New Labour/Ken Livingstone did, improve on them where possible, and get rid of the bad. Oh, I'm a pragamtist too.

    You spend so much time finding reasons not to change. It would be much more constructive actually saying lets see where Cameron/Johnson can improve things with a different approach and congratulate them when they do rather than saying only the Labour approach is right. The majority of the population doersn't seem to thnk so.

    Britain became great by person after person taking on new challenges, challenging the orthodox, and being positive about what they were doing. Some failed, dying in the process, and some were glorious successes.

    Never changing the idealogy and wanting to be in total control of everything and everyone led to the demise of the USSR.

    To always be negative about what has already happened, such as the election of Boris, is rather the approach of the dinosoar, wouldn't you agree?

  • Comment number 73.

    New Labour have been in office for 11 years. When you look around do you see huge improvements in our way of life? Certainly some things have improved, but the resounding answer to the question is NO, and quite a lot of things are worse.

    This governent has always been deceitful. Their policies are presented in a way that is acceptable to voters, but always have a hidden agenda that is not acceptable.

    Labour have an ex Prime Minister who should be behind bars, and hopefully one day justice will be done, a new Prime Minister who has not been elected and who was too afraid of defeat to go to the country.

    If Brown still leads the party at the next General Election, which I doubt, he will be defeated. The comparison with John Major is accurate, except of course that John Major actually won an election.

    Once the downward momentum has begun it is almost impossible to reverse.

  • Comment number 74.

    yep; "no easy explanations", I guess that'd be true if, like Gordon Brown, you admit "we made mistakes" but then go on to say that all your policies and general approach are correct and that you always know best.

    There certainly can't be an easy explanation if you admit things have gone wrong but refuse to admit that anyone in charge did anything wrong.

    "I raided all the pension funds for 11 years, how come pensioners are moaning about not having much money?"

    "I doubled the lowest band tax rate, how come people on low incomes are telling me they have less money than before?"

    "Only 20% of people entitled to tax credits actually claim them, why are people moaning that they don't like the idea?"

    There is a very easy explanation for all these kinds of questions/problems, and that is "the man steering it all has absolutely no idea what he's doing and should be immediately fired".

  • Comment number 75.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 76.

    P.M. Brown and his cabinet are Labour's problem.
    They have succeeded in destroying all Labour's credibility on fairness and prudence by their actions, taxing low earners to pay for the P.M.'s tax bribe to middle Britain, by taking the country into unprecedented levels of government debt, and happily presiding over an increasing gap between the rich and the poor.
    They seem determined to drive the Labour Party over the edge of a cliff and must take responsibility.

  • Comment number 77.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 78.

    Re Mikepko I did reply to all of the points that you said that you had discussed with your family unfortunately the moderator seems to have found something that he or she considers inappropriate I am usually assiduously careful with my facts refering to the internet if there is any doubt so I dont know what the problem was, I look forward to many moderate, of course, exchanges with you in the future.

  • Comment number 79.


    They don't seem to have liked you TWICE.

    Anyway, with over 20,000 people dead and a further 40,000+ missing in Burma, none of what we are saying is really important, is it. I'm sure that David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone combined are capable of a disaster of this magnitude.

  • Comment number 80.

    Re 79.

    Sorry, I should have said

    "I'm sure David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone combined are NOT capable of a disaster of this magnitude."

  • Comment number 81.

    Better save up and buy an hearing aid Gordon, preferably one with long lasting batteries, cos you have a lot of listening to do.... but it's action thats needed not a listening bank.

    I'm no fool. you really have me believe Alister Darling is pulling the strings... "what.. without your say so, come off it pull the other one", like other promises it sticks out like a sore thumb.

    Seeing you are full of confidence how about that election... are you man or mouse.. ?

    We've had change, we've had visions and now we've had listening... better hurry up and do something there ain't many word left!


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